What would you permit when dating?

I have heard conflicting views from various Catholics and Protestants involved in various purity movements. Generally, happily married older people seem to be more permissive than many young single people who try to construct a completely non-contact form of dating.

Of course sexual attraction isn’t all there is to a marriage, but I find it hard to believe that there can be a relationship with a future but no sexual spark at all. Some young people in purity movements of all kinds seem to act as though any contact or time alone is a near occasion of sin or in fact a venial sin.

In my last relationship, we spent a long time talking online, so the few times we did meet up we were always quite intense physically, spent a lot of time hugging and kissing, and sometimes we did go to far too. We hugged the first time we met and kissed the first day, but by that time had already known eachother nearly 3 months.

I want to avoid taking things too far next time, but I’m not a 16 year old. I do have some self-control, and don’t see why I should omit any kind of physical contact before marriage. At the same time, I do see how that could be a temptation to pride, and I understand that younger people with less self-control are also dating, and I should not be a cause of scandal to them.

Simple question, tick as many as you think are permissable before marriage.

I wouldn’t lie in bed together because that’s asking for trouble. Same with French kissing. However, I’d be fine with kisses on the lips and maybe a gentle shoulder massage if one of us had a rough day because I’m very affectionate and kissing on the lips would be the only strictly romantic gesture for me. One of my guy friends has kissed me on the cheek and friends, both guys and girls, have given me huge hugs but that’s because we’re all very affectionate. I’d be fine with the beach or pool too because I’d do that with friends.

As for the playful pushing, I think it’s cute and romantic. When I was in a relationship, we did that and it was fun for both of us. We also were completely chaste throughout the relationship. It was nothing.

I’d rather not tick list items - I don’t think that’s the way.

Some things won’t fly with me, but I’d be concerned with real occasion for sin, as well as the liberty and dignity of the persons involved (i.e. if it’s not pushy or demeaning for some reason).

I would have issues with nearly any of your list items if they were made into a fixture, i.e. a scheduled and regular, institutional way of displaying affection. I don’t like that kind of statement-making. If it isn’t warranted by the situation, it doesn’t fly. Normally, at least.

And since I’m not a big fan of overdoing things, especially early on, I don’t think it would hurt to kiss on the cheek or hand instead of lips for a hello. Making out doesn’t really seem to be in line with my vision of how things should look. French-kissing I’d rather skip, although I can’t really say it’s absolutely wrong. I feel more comfortable without it, however.

A good example of my ways of thinking is the lying on the bed that you mention. On purpose, to make a statement… eh, maybe skip it? At the same time I wouldn’t give a moment’s thought to appearances and such, if there were only one blanket or I don’t know what. Heh, I wouldn’t think ill of anything which weren’t sexually charged or counted on making a statement contrary to what one should believe, but if it actually were sexually charged on bent on statement-making, then I’d rather not have to do with it.

Having a chaste dating relationship is not some distant memory for me.

I am 46, single and I am currently seeing a lady, er, friend who is about 4 years my junior. We both greatly desire to be chaste.

Ultimately this thread is one of those “How far is too far?” topics. That is **not **the correct question.

Why? Because the answer will be different for different people and at different points in a relationship as well as different times during the woman’s monthly cycle.

Here is the bottom line. A person cannot do something intended to arouse the other sexually. If someone realizes they are beginning to feel sexually aroused, it is time to back off. And I mean right now!

What is the best way to do this? Always think of the other person’s immortal soul. If you really love the other person, you would want them to be safe. Why would you do something that may imperil their immortal soul?

The voting list is interesting only in that it presents a number of different situations. The answers each person gives is for them alone. I answered what I can do without unreasonable temptation for myself or for my lady friend.

Very well written. Thanks for the post. I’m 40 and single, and I agree that the condition of the soul is the foundation of any choices made while courting.


Depends. Are we talking about a 16yr old in their first relationship, or a 35yr old who has some experience with how to deal with temptation? Is is someone secure in their faith who knows that fornication is a sin, or someone not so well versed in what is OK? Just saying…big differences in what would be ‘ok’ or not.:shrug:

I agree, wrong question. The right question is, Is this the person that God has in mind for me? And if so, how can I help them to be closer to Jesus? Take the focus off of romance, which only serves to distract you from getting to know the person. There will be plenty of time for that later, and it will be more enjoyable then too. If you go too far in the dating season, it often makes for a rather disappointing wedding night. Don’t fall into the trap that says you have to do that or even flirt with the idea of doing it (pun intended) to get to know someone. It really just blinds you from getting to know them down deep, for real. Even hand holding puts the focus on being intimate before intimacy can really exist. It makes you feel like you are connected when you really aren’t yet. Maybe you feel connected on an immediate surface level, but that’s not the kind of intimacy that marriages are built on, believe me. Not that I’m saying it’s necessarily wrong to hold hands. It’s just not in the right spirit, IMO. It doesn’t reflect the reality of the relationship. The reality is you are still getting to know each other and havent’ yet decided whether or not this is God’s will. Don’t send confusing messages.

The important questions you must ask are, "Is this person generous, forgiving, disinterested in temporal things, anxious to go to heaven and eager to help me get there too? Is he kind in traffic or in other stressful situations? Does she consider the needs of others? Does he pray everyday and take his faith seriously? Are her priorities in the right place? Is she willing to make sacrifices for others (because that’s what parenting is all about)? Can I live with his/her parents for the rest of my life (because I will have to spend lots of time with them, most likely)? Is this God’s will or my will (because God’s will will ultimately make me much happier than my own, however much I may think I love this person right here and now.)? Answer those questions and the questions about purity simply won’t be able to surface. Those other questions will consume all of your time, and once you answer them, there is nothing left to do but either propose or break up. If I had to do it over again, I’d be completely hands off and always out in public, albeit with enough space to speak privately, because the couple must do that. I will expect the same thing from my daughter when she is old enough to consider marriage. Call me old-fashioned but now I wish my parents had done this for me. I have read stories of people who have done this and they are truly beautiful love stories. Save the romance for the marriage. I really do believe you’ll be happier in the long run because of it.

Now that you say, yes. That’s probably connected with what I said about things not being warranted by the situation or about displays. I’ve seen even simple friends holding hands, so I don’t really classify it as a definitely romantic gesture, but if it’s done as an institution (i.e. let’s hold hands, we need to hold hands, it’s time to hold hands etc), it creates illusions.

I personally do not see anything wrong with any of these actions. I would not marry someone I had never embraced or kissed.

I did not select the “massage” option, though IMO a bit of a shoulder rub doesn’t even begin to qualify as a massage. I worked on a knot for a cousin of mine a couple days ago, but that kind of thing isn’t massage, but then I’ve done some fairly advanced self-study on massage techniques.

Laying together on a bed fully clothed is allowable in only one circumstance IMO - in the middle of a furniture store testing out a mattress to share after the wedding. Ok, possibly two - if your SO is laying there peacefully distracted, it should be acceptable to jump beside him/her suddenly to see how far the start makes them jump, but I’d recommend getting off as quick as you got on to avoid being (deservedly) whacked on the shoulder for trying the stunt. Otherwise, don’t mix fire and gasoline.

Kissing with tongues - that’s a very bonding experience; as the wedding date looms, perhaps, but I’d recommend against it in any but the most committed (and soon to be permanent) romantic relationships.

The rest have no inherent dangers, depending on where the parties were themselves mentally at the time.

I really do think it comes down to the couple and the maturity and depth of their relationship. I would tick all of the above; however I would make sure that whilst I was involved in any of the above, that I was not being sexually aroused or allowing my fiance to be sexually aroused. I once was told that you should treat them as you would treat a brother or sister i.e don’t do anything you wouldn’t do with a sibling until you were ready to make a marriage committment to them i.e engaged, wedding coming up, and even then you should do nothing that would arouse either of you…these guidelines have worked well for us!!**

I would highly encourage you to read Boundaries in Dating by Cloud/Townsend, I just finished reading the book and I think that you will find it will help you a lot with this question. They very strongly advise against the “courtship” form of dating and give you practical ways to help you set your boundaries.

My personal belief is that it is going to be different with every person. I know that I don’t think kissing is bad, although I wouldn’t want to engage in heavy kissing and definitely not french kissing. Plus, a kiss should probably not happen on the first date. I have dated several men, but have only kissed one of them, and that took several dates and honest dialogue about physical attraction before I was ready. I would not be comfortable with any kind of touching where a bathing suit would cover, nor with lying on a bed clothed or not or living together. Other couples I know are just fine doing many of these things are still able to keep their chastity. I have been a member of True Love Waits since I was in middle school and still wear my purity ring. I don’t remember hearing any kind of specific guideline, each couple needs to decide for themselves, before they beging engaging in any kind of physical contact.

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